QUAKERTOWN >> One final knee-pumping run from Christian Patrick followed by one last penetrating tackle by Nick Frasch in which he stopped Jeremy Tammaro before he could get started enabled Quakertown to pry the “309 Bowl” trophy away from rival Souderton Friday night.
“Feels amazing to get that thing back,” said Patrick, cheers still ringing down from the stands at packed Alumni Field.
Patrick’s 8-yard touchdown run — coupled with a two-point conversion run by Michael Terra — scored the final points of the evening in a pressure-packed 16-13 victory over Big Red, as the Panthers battled their way to 2-0.
“This is pretty darn close to being up there,” Quakertown coach George Banas said of the rivalry between the two programs. “Souderton-Quakertown goes back to when I was in school (at Quakertown) and watching those great games where we just battled each other, back and forth.”
Both teams added a thrilling chapter Friday night, twists and turns making hearts beat a little faster in the final, frantic minutes.
Big Red (1-1) went ahead 13-8 with 9:24 left to play when Tammaro charged in from four yards out.
Quakertown began its next drive at its own 37, and had to go to work.
“Once they scored we knew we had to start firing back,” said Patrick, who made yards when the holes were there, made the tough yards when there weren’t any. In all, he grinded out 94 yards on 24 carries.
Patrick accounted for 40 of the 63 yards on the Panthers’ go-ahead drive, including a seven-yard blast on 3rd-and-7.
“We wanted the win. Last year we didn’t start off too hot,” said Patrick, whose team fell 26-20 to Big Red last fall. “Everybody was just so happy that we were able to keep driving down.”
Also key on the winning march was the play of junior quarterback Brad Bryan. The kid passed the test.
“Brad doesn’t seem like a two-game starter, by any means,” Banas said. “He looks like a seasoned vet out there. He doesn’t get rattled or anything.”
On 3rd-and-3 at the Panther 44, Bryan ran for six yards, setting the drive in motion. Later on with a 2nd-and-6 at the Souderton 26, he connected with Tim Shevlin, who fought off leg cramps to extend for the first down.
Patrick gained 11 on the next play, then powered his way over the goal line for eight. The junior, praising his “well conditioned” offensive line, was plenty confident with the ball in his hands.
“Coach tells me all the time that I’m one of the more powerful backs, and he just wants me to do what I do,” said Patrick, “just drive down the field and get in the end zone.”
Said Banas: “Every time he touched the ball, he was just about to pop one, just about to pop one. And then finally at the end he did.”
After Terra’s two-point conversion run lifted Quakertown’s advantage to 16-13, Big Red had one last chance.
On 3rd-and-2 at the Souderton 28, quarterback Dean Dipisa dodged the rush, scrambled around to buy time, then threaded the needle to tight end Ethan Smerecki, good for 26 yards and a first down at the Quakertown 46.
After three plays gained eight yards, setting up a 4th-and-2 at the 38, Frasch crashed through the line and dropped Tammaro for no gain.
“Two unsung heroes — Nick Frasch and Colby Benner at D-tackle tonight — really stuffed up the middle,” said Banas, whose crew limited Big Red to 98 yards rushing. “Against the Wing-T, if you can get two guys that don’t allow movement inside, so (Souderton’s) guards can’t pull and move around like they typically do, that’s a tremendous help for your defense.”
Souderton had a pair of 78-yard drives in the first half, each time forced to settle for short field goals — 26 and 28 yards — by William Leyland. Big Red led 3-0 before Bryan found a seam on 3rd-and-1 and raced away to a 28-yard score, the two-point conversion run by Matt Fugitt making it 8-3 Panthers in the first quarter.
Leyland’s second field goal sliced the margin to 8-6 at the break, setting up a back-and-forth second half.
“They held us to two field goals and if we’re able to punch one of those in, we’re talking a different story. But credit to Quakertown,” Big Red coach Ed Gallagher said. “I thought our kids played hard, their kids played hard. It came down to execution, and Quakertown executed better than we did tonight.”
Tammaro rumbled for 88 yards in the contest and Dipisa aired it out, completing 13 of his 22 passes for 220 yards.
“I’m not a passing guy, but I’m gonna take what the defense gives us,” Gallagher said. “We’re running a few more run-pass options right now that we put in last year and have tweaked this year. (Quakertown) wasn’t covering a few things that we saw so we were able to throw and execute those.
“I’d like to be balanced. We’ve always been a run-heavy team but we were throwing the ball better tonight. You have to score more than 13 points.”
Souderton crossed midfield on its final, hurried possession but would be stopped on 4th-and-2 at the 38.
“Their kids made plays,” Gallagher said. “We blocked the right people but their kids beat the blocks.”